You would have thought it a match made in heaven. HBO, arguably the go to venue for quality subscription “no holds barred” TV programming, and Gather Ennis’ incomparable Preacher. After multiple attempts to bring Jesse Custer and company to the big screen, that’s how it was supposed to go down in 2006 well prior to AMC securing rights to the property. Had that transpired, we would have got the show, true, but things would have been quite different.
“The new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial. Which, of course, is kind of the point,” said Johnson. “It was a very faithful adaptation of the first few books, nearly word for word. They offered me the chance to redevelop it but I refused. I’ve learned my lesson on that front and I won’t do it again. So I’m afraid it’s dead at HBO.”
Mark Steven Johnson in 2008
As you can see in the above quote, Mark Steven Johnson, who was hired to write and direct the pilot along with seasoned Hollywood veteran Howard Deutch, developed the screenplay with the intention of replicating the comic to the finest detail. That’s not how AMC’s Preacher TV Series is going to roll, we know that already, but I would have loved to have seen a version in this format, and I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say a lot of other fans would have loved this too. Hell, most we’re probably praying for it to happen that way. You would think this approach would be damn near flawless with no chance whatsoever of failing, right? And yet still …
What you are looking at, or are trying to shield your eye’s from, is Mark Steven Johnson’s IMDB writing credits. Even if he had adapted the series line for line, there is nothing in the screen cap above convincing me that Johnson could successfully capture the tone, mood, vibe, and sheer grime of the graphic novels. How in the world did HBO think he was the right guy for the job? How about Howard Deutch, the second half of the duo hired by HBO to develop the series? Some of his more notable directing credits prior to 2006, the year the HBO pilot was in development? Pretty in Pink, The Great Outdoors, The Odd Couple II.
I don’t get it.
What would the end product have looked like? That’s pretty hard to imagine given the mix of elements conflicting in the above paragraphs, but it may not have ended up being the panel for panel Preacher TV series we all hoped for.
What do you think, would this version of Preacher have met our expectations if it had actually happened?